Monday, August 31, 2015

Sauteed Peach Salad

My wife and I celebrated our anniversary recently, and while we were on our little vacation we stopped at a restaurant and had this absolutely amazing salad. I've recreated it here, with some slight modifications, to the best of my ability. I served this salad alongside pan seared rib eye steak and quinoa.


1 peach, peeled, halved, and cut into wedges
1 T butter
Candied sesame walnuts
Goat cheese
2.5 oz (by weight) spring mix lettuce
Lemon white balsamic vinegar


Dress the salad to taste, but keep in mind that a little goes a long way with balsamic vinegar. Portion it onto 2 or 3 plates. Sprinkle with the candied walnuts, as few or as many as you like. If you want to buy your own candied walnuts, feel free, but the recipe is pretty simple and the sesame seeds add good flavor. I posted the recipe here earlier.

Sauté peaches in the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until heated through and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Distribute the peaches over the salad, and while they are still warm, crumble the goat cheese on top. Again, use as much cheese as you like, but moderation is important.

I followed this procedure for the rib eye, but with one modification. I don’t season with spices, like pepper, until cooking is done or nearly done. Spices burn and create bitter flavors that you don’t really want. Salt, being a rock, doesn’t burn and so can be added whenever.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Corn Muffins

When I made the batter for my corndog recipe, I liked it so much, I was inspired to try to make it into a muffin recipe. While I experienced some failure when trying to develop this recipe, I got some advice from the executive chef where I work and achieved success. The first time I made this recipe I simply made the batter recipe and baked it. It was very dry and just tasted like muffin shaped tortillas. After doing some looking around and talking to the executive chef, I added oil to the recipe and that was all it needed. Oil in recipes helps foods taste moist even though it adds no moisture. This recipe makes sweet, moist corn muffins with plenty of flavor.


1 C of cornmeal
1 C of AP flour
¼ t of salt
¼ t of cayenne pepper
¼ C of sugar
4 t of baking powder
1 egg
1 C of milk
¼ C of canola oil


Preheat your oven to 400 and grease your favorite muffin pan or line it with paper cups.

The directions here are pretty much the same as the corndog recipe. Start by mixing the cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, and baking powder together in a bowl. Then mix the egg, milk, and oil together. When these have each been mixed, incorporate the wet team into the dry team. The reason you should mix the various teams up first before mixing together is it reduces how much stirring has to be done to bring the batter together in the end. The less stirring, the better the texture. So, once the teams are together stir as little as necessary to bring the whole thing together.

Distribute the batter evenly between the muffin cups, this recipe makes 12 muffins, and bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let them cool on the counter and then enjoy.

This recipe is very versatile and lots of extras can be added. I added bacon and cheese to one batch and it came out great. I took out the jalapeno in this recipe because I was making these for kids and I didn't want their moms to get mad at me, but feel free to put it back in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cooking Pasta

People boil pasta all the time, but do you really know what you're doing when you salt the water or add oil? Plus, why you should use all that water when you're making pasta?

Why salt the water: During cooking is your only chance, practically speaking, to affect the taste of the pasta. Salt helps foods taste more like themselves by activating the receptors on your tongue. A misconception is that salting the water raises the boiling point of water thus speeding up the cooking time. While adding salt does raise the boiling point, the amount that is usually added does not significantly change the temperature or speed up cooking.

Why add oil to the water: It is not to keep the pasta from sticking together after cooking. The oil sits on top of the water during cooking and does not lubricate the pasta. Even during draining not enough oil sticks to the pasta to make a real difference. Besides, if it did lube up your pasta the sauce wouldn't stick! The only thing adding oil does for boiling pasta is that it can help prevent boiling over. As pasta cooks, some starch gets into the water, changing the surface tension and allowing boiling over. Adding a bit of oil helps break up the surface tension to prevent boiling over. But, there is a better way.

Why use a lot of water: Using more water dissipates that starch so that it does not boil over. Using more water also allows the heat to bounce back quicker after the pasta is added, thus shortening the cooking time. The more water, the more thermal mass, the more thermal mass the more heat it retains and the quicker you return to a boil. It also gives the pasta more room to move about, which keeps it from sticking while cooking, and helps it cook evenly.

In summary: Salt your water, avoid oil (unless absolutely necessary), and use plenty of water.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Candied Sesame Walnuts

These are a delicious snack for out of hand eating and we will also be using these in a later recipe! Plus, making your own is a bit cheaper and these are pretty easy to make.


1 C chopped walnuts
1 T butter
¼ C sugar
Sesame seeds


Put all the ingredients in a non-stick skillet over medium heat and stir frequently. As the sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until all the walnuts are covered and all the sugar has melted. Transfer to a parchment covered sheet pan and, moving constantly, separate them on the paper. While the nuts are still warm, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top to taste.

Once the nuts are cooled and the coating has hardened, about 5 minutes, break apart any big clumps and store. Use on ice cream, salads, or for delicious snacking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Zesty Corndogs

For years I have been longingly gazing at the packages of corndogs in the freezer section of my local mega mart. I decided if I was going to make my favorite local fair concession worth the calories, I needed to make it myself.


1 C of cornmeal
1 C of AP flour
¼ t of salt
¼ t of cayenne pepper
¼ C of sugar
4 t of baking powder
1 egg
1 C of milk
1 large jalapeño seeded and minced
16 hotdogs
16 wooden skewers (I used disposable chop sticks)
4 T of corn starch for dredging


Heat oil in a deep fryer, deep skillet, or dutch oven to 375.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, and baking powder in one bowl. Beat the egg into the milk and jalapeño. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry team, and thoroughly combine. Pour the batter into a tall cup; this makes it easier to coat the hot dogs. Skewer the hotdogs on your choice of skewer; I used chop sticks that are still connected because they make it easier to flip during cooking.

Spread the corn starch on a plate and lightly coat each hotdog being sure to rub off any excess. Why the corn starch? The dredge creates a starch layer that will help the batter stick to the hotdog. Either too much or too little and the batter could just sort of slide off after it’s cooked, and then you just have a hotdog on a stick, which, while still tasty, is not the desired result. After the dredge is applied, dip the hotdog in the batter and then straight into the oil.

This part can be a bit challenging, but it mostly just requires you to pay attention. As with all frying, and most cooking, temperature control is essential. Be sure to pay attention to the temperature of the oil. Ride the temperature control to make sure the oil stays around 375. If it gets too hot, the outside will get all burned and greasy before the inside is cooked. If it gets too cold, the outside will get to greasy and won’t get a nice crust by the time the inside is cooked. If you do your job right, the breading will be golden brown and not greasy when it is done.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and then move straight onto a draining rig. I use as paper towel lined baking sheet. Let them rest for a few minutes and then consume with ketchup or mustard.

A note about jalapeños: the capsaicin, what makes peppers hot, is mostly in the seeds. So, if you remove the seeds from them, they lose the vast majority of their heat. But, be careful handling them, the capsaicin will stick to your fingers and washing your hands will not remove it. If you don’t want to experience a new kind of pain the next time you rub your eyes, blow your nose, or go to the bathroom, use latex gloves or dip your fingers in a bleach solution after handling them.

Mini Grilled Cheese

My wife was complaining that we had no food in the house and I said she just lacked a bit of imagination. After making that tea party, I had some left over "very thin" sliced bread and I found a can of tomato soup in my pantry. So I thought, why not make a small twist on an old classic and I made mini grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with my cup of soup. They were small so I didn't feel guilty for eating more than one.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Citrus Butter, Pea Puree, and Pesto Mayo

By popular demand (aka being asked by my sister) I will provide the recipes for making some of the spreads I mentioned in my Tea Party Menu. Feel free to vary the amounts of any flavoring, as all of these are to taste and don't require specific ratios. Without further ado, here you go:


Citrus Butter:

Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 T of sugar
1 stick of butter

Pesto Mayo:

1/4 C of mayo
4 t of pesto sauce

Pea Puree

1 C of frozen peas (thawed)
1 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt
8 mint leaves
Pinch of salt


For the butter, combine the lemon and lime zest, the lime juice, and the sugar with one softened stick of butter. Once thoroughly combined refrigerate over night so the fat can extract as much flavor as possible. I shape the butter into a log in a sheet of plastic wrap. The lager surface area means that it softens faster on the counter. Once it's soft, spread on scones, biscuits, or use in making cucumber sandwiches.

The pesto mayo is easy, just combine the ingredients and spread. You are welcome to make your own pesto for this application, but I find it easier just to buy a jar.

The pea puree isn't much more complicated, combine all of the ingredients in a blender then blend until smooth. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recipes You Won't Get From Me

Since this blog is focused on foods I like to make, and I only make foods I like to eat, I just wanted to give you, my dear reader, a heads up on some foods/recipes you will not be seeing from me. I figured I ought to get the negative stuff out of the way right away so we can move on to the food! Though you might see me use these ingredients, those instances will be few and far between.

I don't like cream cheese. Or ricotta cheese. Or yogurt. You will not see a cheesecake recipe, a lasagna recipe, or a cannoli recipe. I wish I liked these foods, but unfortunately I don't.

It's my dad's fault that I don't like cream cheese. My parents like cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, but I never cared for them. When I was but a wee viking, my dad made me a cream cheese and jelly sandwich and I thought it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I took one huge bite of what I thought was a delicious PB&J and nearly threw up. Ever since then I can't even abide the smell of the stuff.

As an amateur foodie, I am always looking to expand my horizons by trying new ways to use these ingredients, so if you have any suggestions or recipes, I would be happy to give them a try.

But, what you will see here is grilling, frying, vegetarian options, delicious desserts (if I can get my neighbor to part with some recipes), savory sauces, tasty meats, plus some of my favorite restaurants and where you can go to find some of my favorite foods.

Tea Party Menu

I did a culinary demo for a few of my friends, and I wanted a spread that would wow them so I decided to throw together a tea party. I made a variety of finger sandwiches and here they are in case you want some ideas. None of these are particularly complicated, but they are tasty.

  • White bread with cucumber and a citrus butter
  • White bread with cream cheese and sweetened strawberries
  • White bread with ham, Swiss cheese, and pea puree
  • Wheat bread with chicken breast, bacon, and pesto mayo
  • Wheat bread with turkey breast, muenster cheese, and cranberry mango pepper jelly
  • Wheat wrap with cream cheese, spinach, tomato, and a little salt
  • Sun-dried tomato bread with ham, cheddar cheese, and mayo
Obviously no tea party would be complete without scones, jams, butter, clotted cream, and, of course, tea. I also served a fruit tart, that I bought, and mimosas.

Update: Here is the recipes for some of the spreads I made

Don't worry, posts about meat are coming.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Southern Style Biscuits with Sausage Gravy and Hash Browns

Southern Style Biscuits with Sausage Gravy and Hash Browns
One of my favorite breakfasts to make because it's pretty impressive when you get everything ready and on the table at the same time. I go back to my southern roots with these biscuits, despite the fact that I'm not that southern, I just really love the food.



1lb breakfast sausage
1T flour
1pint heavy cream
Black pepper to taste

Hash browns:

1T butter
1 Idaho potato


2 cups AP flour
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
½  t salt
2 T butter
2 T shortening
1.25 cups buttermilk


Starting with the biscuits: preheat your oven to 450 then sift together the flour, baking powder, backing soda, and salt. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces, make sure the butter is chilled, and work into the flour mixture using the tips of your fingers, so you don't melt the butter. Make a well in the dough and pour in the buttermilk, mix until the dough just comes together. Place the dough on a floured surface, flour the top of the dough, then fold the dough over itself 5 or 6 times. Press the dough into an inch thick square then cut out your biscuits using a 2 inch cutter. Reform the scraps and repeat.

Place the biscuits "shoulder to shoulder" or next to each other on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Make sure to gently press the top of each biscuit with your thumb to ensure that the biscuits rise evenly. Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are nice and golden on the top.

Making the gravy starts with heating a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat and then breaking up 1lb of breakfast sausage into chunks then cooking them in the skillet. Once the sausage pieces are cooked thoroughly, remove from the heat. Sprinkle the flour on top of the sausage and stir the mixture until all of the moisture in the pan has been adsorbed by the flour. Then, slowly pour the pint of heavy cream into the skillet, being sure to stir constantly to keep the cream from breaking. Once all the cream is in the pan, return the heat to low and simmer until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Season with fresh ground black pepper to taste. When the gravy has thickened, serve over biscuits split in half or reduce the heat further to keep it warm until it is time to serve.

The hash browns start by heating a 10 inch non-stick over medium high heat. Clean the potato and grate using the largest size opening in your box grater. Grate into a tea towel and squeeze out the extra moisture. Melt the butter in the skillet then add the potato and lightly salt it. Once the top starts cooking, flip over the potatoes, in once piece if possible. Cook until brown on both sides and then portion and serve.

I served all these elements together, but feel free to mix and match. I chose to serve this alongside a small fruit salad with scrambled eggs and the left over sausage links.

About me

Hi! Welcome to my food blog. I am a man with a fantastic beard and a passion for good food (with the waist to show it). Please join me as I share some of my favorite recipes, menus, and food ideas.